MetroPCS introduces 'by the minute' pricing plans

Prepaid wireless carrier MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) introduced a new set of "by the minute" plans, available only through Wal-Mart stores, that range from $10 to $30.

MetroPCS’ plans are currently available at Wal-Mart stores.The action, highlighted by Current Analysis' analyst Maidy Whitesell, expands the pricing options available from MetroPCS--a carrier that has largely staked out its competitive position via unlimited talking and texting plans for between $40 and $60 per month.

MetroPCS' new "by the minute" plans offer three tiers:

--500 anytime minutes, unlimited text messaging and 500 MB of data for $20
--1,000 anytime minutes, unlimited text messaging and 100 MB of data for $30
--200 minutes and unlimited incoming text messaging for $10.

    The plans only are available on MetroPCS' feature phones; the carrier's BlackBerry phones and its Samsung Craft LTE phone do not support its new "by the minute" plans.

    A MetroPCS spokesman said the plans are available "at Wal-Mart stores that currently offer MetroPCS service in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Michigan, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco and Tampa." He did not provide information on the carrier's future plans for the offering, including whether MetroPCS would expand availability beyond Wal-Mart.

    "The idea of extending their services with non-unlimited options beyond the unlimited user just shows that the carrier is expanding its customer reach. Pay As You Go users now have one more option to choose from in MetroPCS' By the Minute. Also, the fact that the carrier has introduced its new plans exclusively at Wal-Mart indicates that the carrier wants to cover its basis by offering an alternative to Wal-Mart shoppers in order to compete better with the likes of Sprint's Common Cents, TracFone's Straight Talk, and Leap Wireless' PAYGo plans," wrote Whitesell. "The new $30 By the Minute plan is aggressively priced, as it includes 70 MB more of data than the $30 All You Need Plan from TracFone (which carries only 30MB). Knowing that most prepaid customers are price-sensitive, this difference in favor of MetroPCS' plan can be used as a hook to attract them. Moreover, I think that the new plans are a complement of monthly unlimited plans and it can very well help the carrier to sustain its growth seen in the last quarters."

    The move is the latest strategic effort by MetroPCS, which is in the midst of expanding its LTE network to additional cities. The carrier became the first major operator in the United States to launch LTE services; MetroPCS offers LTE in Las Vegas and Dallas-Ft. Worth.

    For more:
    - see this MetroPCS site

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